For years I hardly possessed one frock.  For ten years it was a nurses uniform (of the white starched apron & frilly lace cap variety) and then, later, skirts and jackets for work.  And, always, jeans for home/off-duty/casual wear.  And for ages (OK, mainly when I was younger!) I even wore them for quite formal occasions. Why?  Because, to me, wearing jeans had such a depth of meaning.   With a mother (her head possibly still in the 30s) saying repeatedly  ‘You must never, dear, ever wear trousers outside the house.’ to rebel and break away from this mindset was everything – and one way to do it was to wear those blue denim jeans.

And that is the way I dressed – for decades.  Did any of you put in that extra bit of material to the leg of your jeans?  I did.  Weren’t they were called ‘loons’?  Then there were straight-legged Levis and varieties of designer jeans.   I’ve also worn my share of baggy and boyfriend jeans, and now, if I do wear them, it’s extra tight skinny jeans.  My mother often used to say to me, ‘Do you never wear anything other than trousers?’   Poor mum, she never did see my bare legs, ever.

But then what happens when you don’t work?   Well, for nearly 3 years after I retired I wore nothing but jeans.  After all, I was off duty permanently, wasn’t I?  Then, I wouldn’t say I had an epiphany moment, but, I did begin to think how boring my clothes were.

I began to experiment with my style.   I made some mistakes and it occurred to me I mustn’t keep wasting money buying new – there’s a huge difference when you’re on a pension between a £30.00 mistake and a £3.00 mistake.  No, clothes had to be found in charity shops.  And before you say, well, I certainly wouldn’t find frocks good enough for a party let alone for formal occasions.  All I can say to that is – yes, you can!!

P1010831I still don’t have a lot of frocks, but I have many good quality charity shop skirts of the sparkling, frothy and sequined variety, which I mix and match with tops, with both items coming in at under a tenner.   Here is my favourite skirt bought for £5.00 with a £3.00 top, which in this pic I’m wearing with ankle boots.

I had a great twitter conversation with 50over50@50_over_50* about this and that, and we agreed that it makes quite a statement to wear chunky ankle boots with your party gear – and it’s comfortable on the feet!

But the bargain of the century has to be my Karen Millen little black dress, which I bought for 75p.  (It had a small fault in the zip, which I mended)

black dress on door

So – buy that party frock (from a charity shop, of course) but don’t keep it in the wardrobe for best.  Wear it now for your friends, your partner and yourself!

More on party frocks shortly, but that’s all for now!

With love

Penny

The frugal fashion shopper

P.S. Lou, the person behind 50over50@50_over_50, has a great project.  She’s a student at Brighton University doing an MA in Fine Art and her final show will include photographs of un-botoxed women over 50 years old.  She’d like a photograph of any women over 50 – go to her website and have a look!

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